CTV building survivors tell of plunging 6 floors

7:41 pm on 25 June 2012

A survivor of the Canterbury Television building collapse has told the Royal Commission of inquiry how she plunged six floors and was shocked to find herself at ground level.

The Commission's investigation into why the building failed began on Monday - 115 people were killed after it fell.

Nilgun Kulpe was on the top floor of the six storey CTV building when the earthquake struck, causing the structure to 'pancake'.

Ms Kulpe says after the shaking stopped, she was shocked to walk out of the building at ground level, after being up so high moments earlier.

No one on the first two floors survived. The top floor had the most survivors.

Another survivor, Kendyll Mitchell, was also on the top floor, with her two young children, when the quake struck.

She described feeling like she was being sucked downwards as it collapsed.

After passing out she came to with her two children looking at her and realised they were in a cavity amongst the wreckage of the building.

February quake may have compromised building

The inquiry earlier heard that the building may have suffered significant damage during the September 2010 earthquake, which could have played a role in its collapse five months later.

Lawyer for the Commission Stephen Mills QC says some engineers will dispute a recent Department of Building and Housing report that assumes there was no damage to the CTV building following the September quake.

Mr Mills says evidence suggesting the building shook more after September points to the fact that it may have been compromised.

Earlier Mr Mills described how the CTV building completely collapsed in a matter of seconds.

Survivors, he said, on the top floor walked out at ground level after the floors of the CTV building 'pancaked' (collapsed on top of each other).

He said David Harding, the structural designer of the building, had not worked on a multi-storey structure before and that the designer used another Christchurch building as a template for the CTV building's structural design.

Mr Mills said Mr Harding may be accused of making miscalculations while using the template.

He said one of the most contentious issues during the hearings will be the building's code of compliance, and whether certain parts of the building should have been constructed differently.